Grand Intentions by Trevor Barr is an exciting read that involves many themes and works at many levels. It concerns a fictitious telephone company, Telco One, which is undergoing major change as the Government privatises it. Telco One is in the throes of moving from a traditional culture based on public sector, even public service, values to a commercial entity subject to the overwhelming imperative of shareholder value. The twists and turns as Telco One transforms from its previous culture into a dynamic commercial entity are transfixing. This is a must-read book for those with an interest in what could become a dystopian drama if not for the emergence and re-emergence of grand intentions and praiseworthy aspirations of the characters themselves.
Trevor Barr’s page-turner of a novel Grand Intentions tackles the ugly side of the neo-liberalism sweeping Australia in the 1990s and 2000s. It examines the privatisation of an incumbent telecommunications carrier, and the drastic impact of its imported US corporate culture on several individuals. He deploys a cast of plausible fictional characters while allowing the narrative to be driven by an echo of real events in the Australian telecommunications industry.
It is with the best of intentions that Australia embarked on a program of privatisation that commenced in the 1970s and continues today. It is timely that Emeritus Professor Tevor Barr has authored a novel that was inspired by real events during the privatisation of Australian Government telecommunications assets. The aptly named and newly privatised Telco One has recruited a chief executive officer from New York and the business culture transition begins. Decades after the events described in Professor Barr’s Grand Intentions the Australian telecommunications market remains in a state of constant flux with successive Governments failing to put in place a balanced, fair and open competitive market that would justify the privatisation program.